By Robert A. Vella

President Trump has been publicly downplaying the worsening coronavirus threat, which is now technically a pandemic even though health officials are hesitant to declare it as such, because he fears bad economic news will harm his reelection chances.  But yesterday, financial markets took a severe nose dive over concerns that international travel is grinding to a halt on top of existing jitters over trade wars (see:  US Economy Faces Long-lasting Damage From Trade War: Fed Official) and a deepening inversion in bond yields (see:  TREASURIES – Yields tumble, 10-year approaches record low as coronavirus spreads).

Not only is Trump prioritizing his personal self-interest over the public health by denying and concealing the truth, his administration has been slashing funding to the very agencies responsible for combating infectious disease outbreaks including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC (see:  US underprepared for coronavirus due to Trump cuts, say health experts).

This is just another in a very long list of disturbing examples which reveal how unfit for office Trump is and how much of a danger he poses to society.

Here is that story plus today’s news roundup:

From:  Market plunge over coronavirus fears underscores political risk to Trump

As President Trump spent Monday sightseeing in India, the U.S. stock market plunged amid growing concerns about a deadly virus spreading quickly across continents — a split screen that brought into stark relief how the coronavirus is testing the White House and undercutting Trump’s central reelection message.

The Trump administration’s disjointed handling of the outbreak has faced mounting criticism as the president’s allies have scrambled to take preventive steps while seeking to reassure the public, at times struggling to explain their decisions and offer a consistent message.

The president’s strategy of publicly downplaying the threat that the virus poses to the United States was undermined Monday as the Dow Jones industrial average — a measure he follows closely — shed more than 1,000 points for its largest drop in two years. Investors acted on growing fears of a worldwide pandemic as the virus took hold in multiple countries, threatening to disrupt global commerce.

From:  With Weinstein Conviction, Jury Delivers a Verdict on #MeToo

The criminal case against Harvey Weinstein was a long shot.

Many of his accusers were bracing for an acquittal. Fellow prosecutors across the country were quietly questioning whether the New York district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., had made a mistake by bringing charges.

But by pushing the boundaries of sex-crimes prosecutions, the Manhattan prosecutors delivered what many people declared a victory for the global movement against sexual misconduct that Mr. Weinstein’s actions had helped ignite.

“It’s a perfect test case of what happens when a culture begins to shift,” said Deborah Tuerkheimer, a law professor at Northwestern.

From:  Pompeo appeared to coordinate with Giuliani on Ukraine, new documents show

The small but significant trove of documents released on Friday by the State Department to American Oversight make clear that Giuliani — who was acting as Trump’s personal attorney — pressed American diplomats to consider the information he’d unearthed in Kyiv about corruption. Though the documents released amount to fewer than a dozen pages of emails, they nevertheless show aides to Pompeo unambiguously receptive to Giuliani’s overtures.

“He wanted to connect with Giuliani which I was able to do lickety split,” one of the emails says. Another has staffers seemingly rescheduling a conversation between Pompeo and Sean Hannity, the primetime Fox News anchor and Trump confidant. In the spring of 2019, Hannity aggressively promulgated the information Giuliani provided from Ukraine about American diplomats.

From:  U.S. Supreme Court bars lawsuit over cross-border shooting of Mexican teen

WASHINGTON, Feb 25 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to open the door for foreign nationals to pursue civil rights cases in American courts, declining to revive a lawsuit by a slain Mexican teenager’s family against the U.S. Border Patrol agent who shot him on Mexican soil from across the border in Texas.

The court ruled 5-4 to uphold a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit against the agent, Jesus Mesa, who shot 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca in the face in the 2010 incident. The family sued in federal court seeking monetary damages, accusing Mesa of violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment ban on unjustified deadly force and the Fifth Amendment right to due process.

From:  Trump abortion referral ‘gag rule’ can be enforced, U.S. appeals court says

(Reuters) – A sharply divided federal appeals court on Monday said the Trump administration may enforce a controversial rule, which critics label a “gag rule,” that could deprive abortion providers of federal funding for family planning.

In a 7-4 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling last June by a unanimous three-judge panel to lift injunctions won by California, Oregon and Washington against enforcing the rule, which deprives clinics of Title X family planning funds if they provide abortion referrals.

The rule, announced last February, was meant to help President Donald Trump fulfill a 2016 campaign pledge to end federal support for Planned Parenthood, which received about $60 million annually, or one-fifth, of all Title X funds.

From:  NRA Doesn’t Have Veto Power Over N.Y. Subpoenas, Judge Says

(Bloomberg) — The National Rifle Association can’t prevent New York investigators from seeing documents subpoenaed from its former advertising agency in a probe of the organization’s nonprofit status, a judge ruled.

The decision, posted on Monday, is a victory for New York Attorney General Letitia James, who began investigating the NRA after a leadership clash at the organization led to internal allegations of self-dealing.

The ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, has a trove of documents related to the NRA after a relationship that spanned over three decades and covered every aspect of the organization’s dealings with the public. The subpoenas seek any documents that could shed light on whether the gun-rights group made false or misleading disclosures in its regulatory filings.

From:  The FBI Is Investigating Massive Embezzlement of Border Patrol Union Funds

The FBI is investigating the disappearance of some $500,000 from the coffers of the powerful union representing the country’s roughly 20,000 Border Patrol agents, said the organization’s national president, Brandon Judd.

Judd said the probe is focused on identifying the individuals responsible for siphoning the money from the bank accounts of the union’s El Paso branch in recent years.

From:  UN calls for ‘two state’ solution to be respected in Middle East

The UN Security Council made a rare show of unity Monday when it called on all parties to maintain their support for a two state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

“Council Members reiterated their support for a negotiated two state solution … where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,” said a statement released by Belgium, which holds the rotating presidency, and supported by all 14 other members, including the United States.

“All parties should refrain from undermining the viability of the two states solution in order to maintain the prospects for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace,” the statement added, an allusion to Israel’s recent threat to build thousands more homes in East Jerusalem, in an area claimed by the Palestinians.

From:  Human rights under assault worldwide: UN chief

UN chief Antonio Guterres launched a “call to action” on Monday against rising attacks on human rights, highlighting the persecution of minorities and “alarming levels of femicide”.

“Human rights are under assault,” said the secretary-general as he opened the UN Human Rights Council’s main annual session in Geneva.

“People are being left behind. Fears are growing,” he said, pointing to swelling divisions and political polarisation in many countries.

“A perverse political arithmetic has taken hold: divide people to multiply votes,” he said, warning that “the rule of law is being eroded”.

From:  An Antarctica heat wave melted 20% of an island’s snow in 9 days

A nine-day heat wave scorched Antarctica’s northern tip earlier this month. New NASA images reveal that nearly a quarter of an Antarctic island’s snow cover melted in that time — an increasingly common symptom of the climate crisis.

The images show Eagle Island on the northeastern peninsula of the icy continent at the start and end of this month’s Antarctic heat wave. By the end of the nine-day heat event, much of the land beneath the island’s ice cap was exposed, and pools of meltwater opened up on its surface.

Antarctica experienced its hottest day on record earlier this month, peaking at 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit. Los Angeles measured the same temperature that day, NASA said.

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